Presidential Elections Drawing Close in Ecuador
Next February 19, citizens will choose the new President, Vice President, 137 national and provincial assembly members, and five Andean parliamentarians
Multiple polls have been published in Ecuador regarding the election prospects of Presidential candidates competing in Ecuador’s general elections set for February 19 (if the vote goes to a second round it would be on April 2). All agree on predictions of a win for Lenin Moreno (of the governing Alianza PAÍS) and his running mate Jorge Glass, yet the total share of votes according to different surveys ranges between 26% and almost 40%.
Voting intention as regards second place fluctuates between Guillermo Lasso, of the CREO-SUMA coalition, and Social Christian Party candidate Cinthya Viteri.
Election law establishes that in order to be elected President in the first round, hopefuls must secure more than 50% of the vote, or 40% with a difference of ten points over the closest rival.
The results are not clear-cut according to polls, more than 30% of the electorate remains undecided as to how they will vote, although this number has been declining since the electoral campaign began.
Meanwhile, most opposition contenders, along with the mainstream right-wing press, continue to attack the government and each other, as demonstrated by the only televised debate, which took place in Guayaquil, organized by the city’s Chamber of Commerce, home to the richest men in Ecuador.
Moreno did not appear in the debate due to its sponsorship by a business entity, and the questions that each candidate was asked served as a pretext to attack the current government, which has done the most for the Andean country in the last decades, and is the only administration to have maintained political stability, unlike several of its predecessors, who were forced out of office before completing their terms.
The debate was a real confrontation between Lasso (accused of firing hundreds of workers when he was part of the banking system) and Cynthia Viteri, with mutual attacks and frequent interruptions, which the other candidates were not exempt from. In general, few concrete government proposals were offered.
In the elections to be held on February 19, citizens will choose the next President, Vice President, 137 national and provincial assembly members, and five Andean parliamentarians. In addition, Ecuadorans will cast their votes in a referendum promoted by the government, which seeks to ban politicians and civil servants from holding assets and capital in tax havens.
The audience at the televised debate was vocal in expressing support for the different candidates, and the whole environment justified Lenin Moreno’s decision not to attend this media circus.
Opposition candidates also launched criticisms against the National Electoral Council (CNE) regarding the electoral registry. The CNE replied that the electoral roll was made available to citizens September 7-21, 2016, and in this period only 99 complaints were filed for inconsistencies in personal information. All these cases were processed and corrected.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Council has invited large delegations from the Union of South American Nations and the OAS to oversee the elections.
According to teleSURtv, the CNE ratified that the electoral register has undergone a guaranteed technical update, despite opposition claims.
The clashes between those candidates aiming to return Ecuador to the past, like the neoliberal Lasso, contrast with the social investment works of President Rafael Correa and the Alianza PAÍS government, which have provided solutions to issues affecting the population for decades.
The construction of hospitals in different parts of the nation is aimed at improving the health of Ecuadorans, emblematic projects that are a sample of the “decade gained” as opposed to the so-called “lost decade” of the 1990s.
In Portoviejo, one of the cities most affected by the earthquake of April 16, 2016, a Specialty Hospital is being built which will have a total of 528 beds for patients from across the country.
Also worth mentioning is the Guasmo General Hospital in Guayaquil, destined to be one of the most modern in this nation.
In Ambato, the Regional Teaching Hospital is being restored, with capacity of 337 beds and investment of close to 70 million dollars. The works should be completed this year.
In a press conference offered in Italy, President Correa stated, “Now Ecuadorans have a different attitude, we are proud of what we have achieved. Paradoxically, despite the construction of roads, schools, hydroelectric plants, ports, airports, and housing, the greatest achievement is intangible.”
The state newspaper El Ciudadano indicated a few days ago that, although certain works are the responsibility of municipal authorities, the government has resolved to intervene as regards potable water supplies, markets, coastal defenses, and transport terminals, in order to generate a comprehensive change, attract tourism and, consequently, revive local economies.
Correa emphasized, “The results are very positive; undoubtedly there is a change of era in Ecuador, the economy has doubled despite the difficulties of recent months, above the Latin American average, we have also lifted more than 2 million Ecuadorans out of poverty.”
Ecuador’s Coordinating Minister of Social Development, Cecilia Vaca Jones, said that in the last ten years, 11 hospitals have been inaugurated and another 20 have been rebuilt and renovated. A further 51 health centers and 58 Millennium Educational Units (EMU) were built, while five of the latter have been rebuilt; in addition, 69 Good Living Children’s Centers and five High Performance Sports Training Centers were built.
Vaca highlighted the significant progress in the public health sector and the population’s confidence in the works implemented by the government, which invested a total of 13,605,382,008 dollars in health projects over the 2007-2015 period, according to official figures.
In the field of education, with the new Decennial Education Plan, institutionalized in 2016, the Ecuadoran government hopes to attain the best educational statistics in South America by 2025.
According to government figures, the current administration has awarded 47 times more scholarships than those awarded during the previous seven governments. In addition, to improve the working conditions of educators, a reclassification process was implemented resulting in an increased salary for some 50,000 teachers.
One issue that deserves special attention is tackling child malnutrition, which still affects 23% of children in the country, a situation that has consequences for the growth and psychomotor development of infants. From 2009 through 2016, more than 800,000 children received micronutrients to supplement their diet.
A total of 82% of older Ecuadorans are now covered by social security, receiving a pension, and a large number also receive the Human Development Bonus, providing further economic support, guaranteed access to public health services and free medicine.
Despite these advances in the social sphere and the Alianza PAÍS candidate’s lead in the polls, the repetitive discourse of the right wing and oligarchy-owned media, continue to impact public opinion. Electoral victory is not guaranteed at any level, especially when powerful interests will do their best to reverse what has happened in the last decade.
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